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Healthcare play specialists help children cope with hospital

25 June 2015

Health Care

Most adults feel a little anxious about going to hospital, but for children even a blood test can be terrifying.

In addition to those who are referred by their GPs, children and young people account for one in four admissions to A&E.

Thankfully Southend Hospital has a dedicated team of professionals known as the healthcare play specialist team, which helps children (and their parents) to understand what is going on and alleviate anxiety.

The team of three spend the majority of their time on Neptune children's ward, paediatric outpatients clinic, paediatrics A&E and can also be seen in other areas such as MRI, X-ray and theatres.

Claire Scott, ward manager Neptune ward, said: "Our hospital play specialists are integral to providing a positive experience for not only the children that access the hospital's services, but for their families too." 

The team work alongside the paediatric teams and their role includes: making the environmental workplace child friendly; using techniques through play to prepare, teach and help children with hospital procedures; alleviate anxiety by improving communication; prevent regression and promote development for the child; and support the child and family.

Claire added: "The service is moving from strength to strength and they put the needs of the children at the centre of everything they do. There is nothing better for a manager to see, than a child leaving the department hearing them say 'I don't want to go home mummy, I want to stay here, I like it here!'  Our team of play specialists make what can be a terrifying experience into one that a child feels they can cope with."

PHOTO (l-r): Lisa Kawa-Akenbo (with toddler Eliza Richardson), Yvonne Curtis and Janet Worth.